Military Families can never be quite sure where they’ll be for the holidays, but they often can’t make it back home to celebrate with their families. This invites in the opportunity to start new holiday traditions, like inviting over your Military Family and single servicemember friends for some festivities.

Hosting a big group, especially one that may have traditions of their own, can be a bit overwhelming, which is why it’s important to have a few tricks up your sleeve. The following 5 tips will ensure everyone has a great time while taking some stress off of you as the host.

1. Crowdsource the Menu

Guests come for the food and stay for the company, so draw up a menu to entice a crowd. A great way to make sure there’s something everyone will enjoy is by asking them directly what their favorite holiday dishes are. You can even put together a group message or Facebook group where everyone can share their ideas. Also, don’t be shy about asking or help with the cooking. Guests are often willing to bring their award-winning pumpkin pie recipe or Grandma’s green bean casserole.

2. Mix-and-Match Traditions

Much like the menu strategy, reach out to your guests to learn about their family’s holiday traditions and try to incorporate them into the celebration. Maybe it’s having the youngest guest carve the turkey, handing out party crackers, or playing card games during dessert. You’ll help make another member of your military community feel a little less homesick while creating new traditions of your own.

3. Set the Scene

The holidays call for decoration, and a little sparkle here and some embellishment there goes a long way in making your space feel cozy, homey, and celebration-ready. These little touches always make the difference and are especially meaningful to guests living in smaller quarters, such as bachelor housing, and don’t have the space to decorate.

4. Create a Plan of Action

This tip applies to any party, no matter where you host, or who your guests are. Set a rough schedule of when to begin cooking so that appetizers, entrees, and desserts come out in a timely fashion, so your guests are left starving or overwhelmed by options. Also, remember to decide on the little details, such as where you’re going to put guests’ coats, whether the food will be laid in a buffet or family-style, and if there’s going to be assigned seating. You can keep the plan flexible, but having an idea of how the party will progress will take some pressure off of you as the host.

5. Send Guests Home with Something

Offering party favors to your guests is a thoughtful way to send the memory of a good time home with them. It doesn’t have to be something big, but a thoughtful note or artfully wrapped cookie will offer them something to enjoy in moments when they’re feeling homesick. Bonus points for sending your guests home with leftovers: no one can resist an extra serving of mashed potatoes.

Be the Host with the Most:

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